Q: Is there an easier way than probate to transfer real estate, clear title and owned outright, to an established heir?
My brother, never married, died intestate with no debt, a savings/checking account, a 10 acre parcel owned solely, and one half title on a house held as community property with our mother.
My mom, being first in succession, received the cash assets, his union pension and SS benefits after providing the correct documentation, but nothing has been done to transfer the real property into her name.
Both properties are located in Nevada County, the land parcel is worth approximately $150,000 and the half interest in the house is worth around $200,000. My brother's county of residence was San Mateo.
Is there any way to streamline or simplify this process, or will the full probate procedure be necessary?
A: A full probate is required. There is no getting around it with values like that. The threshold to avoid probate is $166,500 in gross value of all assets subject to probate. This estate is clearly well above that so a full probate is required. We can get you initial documents tomorrow and get this filed this week if you contact us to go over the details. The faster you start the faster you get to the finish line. Please contact me to go over any specific questions. Good luck. -John
A: Probate will almost certainly be required, unless the house title with your mother allows. It is possible the house jointly owned with your mother can pass without probate, if it is held in joint tenancy. (Your post says "community property", but that would not be correct for a couple that were never married.) If so, and the only other asset is the parcel, a more scaled down (summary) procedure than full probate may be available. Take a look at Probate Code sections 13150 - 13158.
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